Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Movie Review: John Q 288

John Q is contemporary Hollywood's idea of an issue movie: preachiness hiding behind a superstar. The good news is that a major film studio is taking up a complex issue like health care, one of the worst messes in American life. The bad news is that the movie is so hypocritical, heavy-handed and gummed up with silly, sentimental and cliche-stuffed sub-plots that it undermines its own good intentions. Fortunately for the studio, Denzel Washington and Robert Duvall are always worth seeing. Spoilage warning: plot is discussed, not ending. And your own reviews are as welcome as mine.

The plot is pretty simple. Denzel Washington plays John Quincy Archibald, a beleaguered working class guy in Chicago whose hours at the factory have been reduced and whose car has just been repo'd. He is catching guff about money from his wife (Denise Archibald), and the couple has a cute and loving kid Mike (Daniel Smith) who collapses during a baseball game.

It turns out that Mike needs a heart transplant, which the nasty hospital administrator (Anne Heche) informs John will cost $250,000, an operation his insurance policy doesn't come close to covering. The Archibald's sell of nearly everything they own to try and raise the money to pay the hospital and the greedy, uncaring surgeon (James Woods) and as Mike slips closer to dying, John snaps and takes over the hospital emergency room.

Robert Duvall plays Lt. Frank Grimes, an aging hostage negotiator undermined by his idiot boss (Ray Liotta). Almost everybody in this movie is a cliche -- the uncaring administrator, the political and bumbling police chief, the saintly, too-good-to-be true John Archibald, whose solution to his very valid complaints about the American health care system -- a solution much endorsed by the movie -- is to get a gun and take over the emergency room while patients bleed and give birth. Even while holding hostages at gunpoint, Washington's character is noble, even saintly. Washington is a great actor and he is a likeable hero here, but the plot just takes too many loopy twists and turns. Everyone in the film is either a cartoon villain or a noble lifesaver really to preach about the evils of HMOs at the drop of a gun.

The best parts of the movie, not surprisingly, occur when Duvall and Washington are sparking off one another. But unaccountably, there are so many silly plot contortions that the power of that great pairing is lost. Director Nick Cassavetes and writer James Kearns twist their movie into a pretzel trying to deal with all of the potential racial, class and political sensibilities. To balance all the evil doctors, there are some wonderful ones.

To avoid the appearance of hitting racial issues too hard, Archibald's friends are all white. In addition to the stupid police chief (is any authority figure in America ever competent in a Hollywood movie?), there's a woman-beater and an airhead, vain TV reporter.

I won't give away the ending, but it's fun watching the moviemakers wrestle with a dilemma of their own making. The movie seems to be saying that the best way to deal with your insurer is to get a weapon and take some hostages. Unlike the heroes of Dog Day Afternoon, perhaps the classic modern hostage movie, John Archibald is saintly and noble enough to run for President. So what becomes of our Dad/kidnapper? You'll have to see the movie to find out. It's entertaining, and it's almost sure to be a big hit. But even a superstar can't mask a silly story.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Movie Review: John Q

Comments Filter:
  • by bolix ( 201977 )
    Perhaps its indicative of the current violent atmosphere that the filmakers removed the movies teeth.

    Plainly speaking, will a movie with a high moral stance fly at the box office atm. I am guessing but i think they will have made some reedits to change the story focus post 9-11.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Stop telling us about the latest crappy movie you've seen. It wore thin a long time ago.

    Start telling us about some of the good movies you've seen. Show that you know how to do something more than bitch about how none of the movies these days live up to your l33t intellectual needs, and maybe you'll start seeing posters do more than bitch about what a moron you are.

    Just a thought.
  • This is funny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WildBeast ( 189336 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @10:34AM (#3021680) Journal
    Complaining about the US healthcare system? You should take a look at the Canadian system. Around here patients die not because they don't have enough money but because they have to wait a year for a surgery. Some nurses are even refusing to work, others are getting sick. It's a freakin disaster.
    • Re:This is funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Black Rabbit ( 236299 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @10:57AM (#3021751)
      That has more to do with the government's unwillingness to properly fund it, than whether or not it works. Every time there's a report about the state of Canadian healthcare, it seems to come from some right wing "thinktank"--why do they call them that?--that has a vested interest in bringing down the system, so they can put a for-profit system in its place.

      Masankowski's recent report had connections with the Fraser Institute idiots, for instance. Roy Romanow's full report will be interesting once it's fully released. He has already said that the system is breaking down due to very insufficient government funding on all sides.

      I fail to see how, in a system that has been pared to the bone and running probably about as efficiently as it's going to, how in the world introducing a profit motive, therefore slicing the pie ever further, is going to save money! Whatare they going to do, cut the salaries of the staff? This will just drive them south, as it has already done with many of the nurses.

      I saw an interesting article in (I think) the Ottawa Citizen a few weeks ago. It suggested thatif Roy Romanow wanted to see what a for profit healthcare system looked like, he should look no further than the veterinary system thathe might use to take care of a family pet. The article went on to pint out many of the parallels between vetcare and our healthcare. I wish I could dig it up.
      • good point. Look at France, looks like the free healthcare system is working nicely in there.

        Why isn't the government sufficiently funding the healthcare system? Where does 50% of my salary go? And even worst, apparently they'll be pushing the retirement age to 70 by 2010.

        Let me know if you find the article.
        • Re:This is funny (Score:2, Informative)

          Here 'tis, and it was in the Ottawa Xpress, a weekly alternative paper that has a reputation for touching stories that "go unnoticed" by the mainstream media, (not having to worry about upsetting major advertizers).

          I did the cut-and-paste thing, as I suspect the link won't last all that long.

          *****
          Vetting the health-care system
          Pet hospitals a telling tale about the future of medical free enterprise
          Alan Martin

          Biko's trip to the vet could teach
          Roy Romanow a thing or two
          about health care

          If Roy Romanow wants to save the Canadian health-care system he should buy himself a pet.
          A rare Bolivian iguana would be best, but a dog will suffice.

          Mr. Romanow, of course, is Prime Minister Jean Chrøen's health czar, entrusted to rescue our public health care system from the brink of collapse. This is no small task as various governments tighten health budgets like a prodded sphincter and our medical professionals flee like rats from a sinking ship.

          Later this month the former Saskatchewan premier will deliver an interim report based on consultations he's had with citizens and medical professionals here and in Europe. A final report will follow in November.

          Romanow has said that though he is intent on preserving a universally accessible system, he is not averse to considering a new role for private health care providers.

          For many Canadians, the United States embodies much that is wrong with free enterprise medicine. The socio-economic divide, critics decry, is nowhere more evident than between those who have private medical plans and those that are left with the pedestrian, public system.

          It's a system we are only beginning to consider seriously as Alberta and Ontario threaten Health Minister Allan Rock with private hospitals.

          But if Romanow really wants insight into the future of our health-care system he need look no further than his nearest pet hospital.

          Why?

          Because while fact-finding missions to such hip locales as London, Paris and Stockholm, are de rigeur for any commissioner worth his salt, the realities of a private health-care system are already too familiar to millions of Canadian pet owners.

          Consider this: a routine, non-emergency visit to a vet sets you back nearly $100. If you have medical insurance for when accident strikes you're on safe ground, if not, prepare for your kids to pay their own tuition.

          If there is any advantage to such a system, it is that unnecessary medical intervention may be limited. In our health care system, unnecessary procedures are an everyday occurrence, a folly we don't fully appreciate because we never see the bill. With vets there is no escaping it. You know what you get, and pay for what you get.

          With veterinarian practice being a happy mix of business and medicine, however, you might well appreciate how the lines of medical judgement can be blurred. Take for example the vet in Montreal who tried to convince a friend to give his cancer-riddled dog, weekly blood transfusions, at $200 a pop - this, just after he had given the dog less than a month to live.

          The practice isn't limited to major procedures. My dog Biko uses a non-medicinal, over the counter ear cleaner to stave off ear infections. Twice, when purchasing refill containers, I've been confronted by vets who insist (unsuccessfully) on giving her a $46 "assessment."

          I had another glimpse into the future when I took the old girl to the vet recently. At the end of the visit I was given a mystery goodie bag to take home. An autopsy of the contents revealed a 2.5-kilogram bag of dog food and brochures peddling the various wares of pharmaceutical giants Bayer and Pfizer. For $65.95 a month, I also learned, I could sign up for PetPlan's all-inclusive insurance plan - root canals and "final arrangements for your dog" all on the house.

          Imagine a future health-care system where visits to the doctor are rewarded with goodie bags sponsored by Big Pharma, insurance conglomerates or some breakfast cereal company out to change your brand loyalty? Or where the medical care your loved ones receive is dependent on an insurance plan or the generosity of your chequebook?

          Most pet owners gamble with their pet's health by not getting insurance, including yours truly. I know of countless owners who wished they hadn't - the couple who dropped several grand on inconclusive diagnostic tests for their pooch's mysterious indigestion; another who spent nearly a month's mortgage payment on labour-inducing drugs to save their pregnant cat.

          Of course, they balk at the bill but they don't hesitate. They love their pets, and pony up accordingly. For those who can't, we get besieged by emotional appeals for help.

          Next time you read such a story - the Ottawa Petfinder prints them at least once a month - substitute Fifi for a person. That's the future of medical free enterprise.

          Canadian pet owners are already on familiar terms with that future.

          Mr. Romanow, visit your nearest pound.
          *****
      • Re:This is funny (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Zach` ( 71927 )
        A for-profit system would be more efficient, better equipped, and far more capable to deal with medical situations than any government agency. A for-profit system is NOT bad.

        Introducing a profit motive is NOT bad. Introducing a profit motive would be the best thing that could happen to Canadians. They would have businesses COMPETING for their money. The company that could offer the best services for the best price would be successful.

        There is no competition with the government.
        • Re:This is funny (Score:3, Interesting)

          > The company that could offer the best services for the best price would be successful.

          A small correction: The company that could convince the most consumers that they were offering the best services for the best price would be successful. (Much like the drug companies today - look at how much they actually spend on R&D vs. what they spend on advertising, promotions and the lawyers to fight for longer patent durations)

          Also - why would a "for profit" system be better equipped? Would it make $en$e to put an MRI somewhere there was no money making possibility? - "Sorry John Q. public - we could have diagnosed your cancer soon enough to save your life but it just wasn't profitable to have a second MRI machine in Moosejaw."

          I suppose that this would be fine if you were buying a steak (mmmmm artery clogging fat...) but I think that it goes against the grain for those doctors who don't want to treat their patients as commodities but as human beings - after all Time is money in the capitalistic system you envision you've gotta move those unwashed and ill masses through the waiting room quickly - prescribe Prescribe! PRESCRIBE... Gosh I wonder if there are any big financial interests behind all those "think tanks"...

          Business is not always right, neither is gov't. Gov't shouldn't be run like a business - there are some things that society can really use that just can't be summed up in a profit/loss statement. ARPANET for one. Some level of health care for another. (I am also thankful that business isn't run like the government - but more on that some other time.)

          yeah, you caught me... sorry - just trying to trick the readers out there into thinking. From the trailers I've seen that is what "John Q." seems to have started out trying to do, though I won't be surprised if it fails because it is toting too many agendas and Hollywood baggage.

          • A small correction: The company that could convince the most consumers that they were offering the best services for the best price would be successful. (Much like the drug companies today - look at how much they actually spend on R&D vs. what they spend on advertising, promotions and the lawyers to fight for longer patent durations)

            This is spot on. One thing that annoys me about apologists for both capitalism and communism is that they miss this critical point: it's not the quality of the product, it's the marketing of the product. Quality is only a part of marketing, and brother, it ain't that much a part. The corolary to this is that it's not who controls the means of production, but who controls the demand, that determines how the economy is run.

        • There is no competition with the government.

          True, but that may not be a bad thing. There is no competition, but there is a voting populus that must be placated. Try telling HIP or Aetna that you'll take your business elsewhere...they make so much money off the average person, it doesn't even matter. Plus, they're all in bed with Pfizer/Merck, which is one of the big costs anyway. Pfizer ups the price of their drugs, and has deals with each HMO. No matter who you pay, the drug cartels^W companies get their's.

          It also leaves us with the moral aspect: no one should turn a person's life into a lucritive business. Living is a basic human right, not something that should be turned away when there's no more money to be made (try getting insured when you're 65 and have a history of cancer in your family). I have personally seen policies dropped in the face of terminal illness: you can only have healthcare if you don't need it. A universal system means your doctor wants to cure the ill, rather than buy a Porsche.

          As for supplies, a for-profit system, hypothetically, should be better equipped since there are billion-dollar companies backing it. This isn't usually the case, and even when it is, those facilities are only available to the wealthier part of the population. The poor/middle-class areas can't pay as much, so they die. Saying a human life isn't worth as much because they don't have a high-paying job just doesn't work for me (here in NY, firemen are on this ultra-shitty HIP plan that almost killed my friend; stockbrokers' lives are apparantly worth more).
        • Re:This is funny (Score:2, Interesting)

          by _J_ ( 30559 )
          The Globe and Mail has been runnign a series on this subject. A comparison of the systems can be found here [globeandmail.com] while a rebuttal can be found here [globeandmail.com]. While the rebuttal is significant the tone of the first article is that there are many positives and negatives to both systems and that solutions to the problems north and south of the border are going to be a little complex. Incidentally, the first article also talks about the French system approaching a crisis state.

          That being said there are some interesting figures to note. US health care spending is $4055 per capita (from this Newsweek article [msnbc.com] in the "Data Bank" about 1/3 of the way down). In Canada it's about $3068.58 (The 2000 Grand Total [statcan.ca]/a 2000 population of about 31,000,000). Converted to USD that's about $1927.98 US. If we use purchasing power parity of about 80% that's still $2454.86 US. The Canadian system costs just over half of the US system and everyone is covered. That being said the extra money in the US system goes into much faster response time to help people.

          Make of it what you will but both systems need to be looked at and neither contains a universal truth.

          IMHO, as per.

          J:)
      • Re:This is funny (Score:4, Insightful)

        by invenustus ( 56481 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @03:00PM (#3022603)
        Every time there's a report about the state of Canadian healthcare, it seems to come from some right wing "thinktank"--why do they call them that?--that has a vested interest in bringing down the system, so they can put a for-profit system in its place.

        I hope you're trolling, but I fear you might actually be serious.

        I had a quick look at this Fraser Institute [fraserinstitute.ca]'s web site. It seems to me that they support:

        This sounds like a set of Your Rights Online [slashdot.org] articles!

        It's easy to ignore the arguments that come from these groups when you characterize them as "right-wing" or "corporate apologists". My hometown newspaper [philly.com] likes to put Cato Institute [cato.org] articles in a special box marked "The Right Stuff - a forum for conservative opinion".

        If someone's wrong, show me how they're wrong. Name-calling - i.e. "idiots" - doesn't prove a thing.

        Your sig, however, is brilliant. I mean that. It says in seven words what I've been trying to tell politically-inclined people for years.
    • The French system is the best in the world (quote Geneva-based, UN health arm WHO). It consists in a set of insurance systems, regulated by the state but run by elected representatives of the population categories they cover. Contribution to the insurance is proportionnal to income, but the service is the same for all. Doctors and nurses are private, self employed. They are NOT state employees as in the UK or Canada. You can choose to see the doctor YOU WANT, when you want. You can go see a different doctor each time if you want.

      The reimbursment rate of the insurance system is based on the idea "the more life-threatening (and hence expensive), the more you are covered". For a flu, a pair of glasses or straightening your teeth, you are only partially refunded, and because of that people always subscribe to a complementary insurance. For a transplant or a cancer treatment, however expensive, you don't lay down a cent.

      • > Contribution to the insurance is proportionnal to
        > income, but the service is the same for all.

        Oh, wonderful: yet another scheme to soak the rich.

        You know, the whole point of insurance is that everyone pays the same but people are reimbursed at different rates (i.e., some peoples' houses will burn down, others won't; someone people will get cancer, others won't.) Why should some people pay more than others for the same good?
      • So, you want to give poor people crappy healthcare? That is what your statements mean.

        However, you are *describing* socialism bordering on facism. If socialism is what you are advocating just say so and stop callin it a "healthcare system".

        What you say is the equivelant of saying "the computing and network systems of the USA are the worst on the world" and follow it with some sort of Apple and Lucent giveaway program, administered by the state, paid for at gunpoint by everybody with a job, in a disproportional manner. Point being, there was nothing "wrong" with the computers, you disagreed with who posessed the computers and had access to the networks to start with.
        • by DABANSHEE ( 154661 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @02:40PM (#3022532)
          Actually you know that the US is the only nation in 'the West' that doesn't have a 'socialised' health system, & guess what? The US just so happens to have arguably the worst health system in the West too - its the most expensive health system in the world, both per capita, & as a percentage of GDP, plus in total too, even though 40 million Americans have no coverage what-so-ever.

          That's the trouble with basing policy on ideaology, one loses flexibility.

          Hence on balance, the most successful economies are the mixed economies, where they don't let themselves be restricted by ideaology & take policies from both the left & the right, depending on which is right for the job.

          BTW, in other ways the US is a mixed economy - for example the US has a socialised highway system.

          You see, compared with other sectors, demand for healthcare services are relative static in reaction to price - people do not get less sick just because prices go up. Consequently in a market based healthcare system like the US, relative speaking healthcare providers can charge what they want & mostly get away with it.

          However in the rest of the OECD its different. Take the example of Canada. A couple of Years ago some doctors decided to opt out of the system & charge what they want, well the govt just said we won't pay them, & if patients wanted to see them they'd have to pay them themselves. Well what do you know, those doctors lost most of their business overnight & eventually they all gave in.

          Here in Oz its similar, if doctors charge more than the schedule 'bulk billing' fee, its up to patients themselves to cover the balance. One can take out 'gap insurance', but insurers know if they covered the whole potential 'gap' doctors would be free to charge what they want, so even the insurers will only cover a proportion of the gap (a percentage of it, up to a certain maximum threshold). But because its much easier for doctors just to bulk bill the govt, rather than mail bills out & chase them up - where in the end they get a cheque from medicare (the govt agency that covers payements to healthcare providers) for the schedule fee bit & another cheque from an insurer that covers the insured part of the gap & then the balance in cash from the patient. Which means months of waiting because the patient has to 1st mail the bill to the govt healthcare agency to get the schedule fee cheque, then when they get it back they then mail it off to the insurer to get the 'part of the gap' cheque from them. So basically the govt makes it so inconvenient for either doctors or patients to go private, that the vast majority of both chose to go public, ie the doctor just bulk bills the govt & patients ddon't have to worry about bills at all.

          Consequently in the rest of 'the West' healthcare costs are only about 8% of GDP, or something, while in the US its nearly about 15% & rising. As a percentage of GDP the discrepancy is even higher. Plus in the rest of 'the West' there's 100% coverage, while in the US, 40 million Americans have no coverage.

          One standard for comparing health systems is life expectancies. M'nn "it appears all those countries with 'socialist health systems' have better life expectancy rates than the US" [mrdowling.com]. Ecen Cuba's almost matches the US's.

          BTW, how often do you lobby the US govt to privatise its socialist highway system? Afterall the fall of the Soviet Union shows that socialism doesn't work, which means US highways are bound to be more efficient if they were all privacised & there were tollbooths on every entry ramp.

          & imagine the efficencies that could come with increased competition, you could have a dozen different companies all operating different tollways between San Diego & LA. That would be real efficient. Afterall increasing choice always makes things better - look at the 60 TV channels, that's much better than just having BBC 1, 2 & 3 & a couple of token private channels like they have in the UK. Mind you how does that Pink Floyd song go? '40 channels of shit on the TV' or something?
          • Just a few points here....

            it appears all those countries with 'socialist health systems' have better life expectancy rates than the US

            It helps that those countries don't have the War on Drugs. It helps a whole lot.

            BTW, how often do you lobby the US govt to privatise its socialist highway system?

            As a member of a Rail Passengers Association, I do it all the time. Railroads would be a much more cost-efficient means of transportation for both people and freight if all the trucking companies and automobile drivers actually had to pay for the upkeep of the roads they use. It's also better for the environment (due to fuel efficiency) and much safer to transport hazardous material by rail.

            Afterall increasing choice always makes things better - look at the 60 TV channels, that's much better than just having BBC 1, 2 & 3 & a couple of token private channels like they have in the UK.

            For those who didn't read the parent post, he was being sarcastic. I've got some advice: Go through the Slashdot archives and look for stories about Comedy Central's South Park and Daily Show, or the Star Trek marathons on TNN, or any number of Fox shows, or the Food Network's Iron Chef, or the Cartoon Network's vast importation of Japanese cartoons. My favorite thing about modern TV is how you can always find a cable network like USA or TNT showing movies on the weekends. You may be too cool for TV, but a lot of us aren't. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that 2002 may be the best time in history to be a TV watcher.

            (Although I'll grant you that NBC's Olympic coverage blows.)
          • Anyone who thinks the American system isn't socialized hasn't looked. Licensing, regulation by locality, state and federal agencies, restrictions of what may or may not be "provided", insurance regulation, etc etc etc.

            Just because it's *less* regulated than many other places, that it's still possible to choose who to see and when, that does not make it non-socialist.

            Prices are driven up because of government interference. Remove that interference, and prices will (again) drop. The problem is with trying to compete with government, who has already taken your money in taxes in order to offer "free" services.

            Like any organization, government acts to crush competition. Government does so with guns and prisons.

            Want a direct comparison? The British recently did a study comparing their health system with Kaiser Perminente, an American "Health Management Organization". The Kaiser costs were consistantly lower than the British system, because Kaiser has incentive to reduce peoples use of the system.

            In a government run system, the incentive is to increase customer use, in order to justify bigger staffs, bigger budgets, and more importance of their department over other departments.

            Bob-

          • "The US just so happens to have arguably the worst health system in the West too - its the most expensive health system in the world, both per capita, & as a percentage of GDP, plus in total too, even though 40 million Americans have no coverage what-so-ever."

            The US also arguably has the most advanced medical and biotechnology in the world. The US medical industry has a world-wide reputation similar to our aerospace and computer industries. The brightest foreign medical students consistantly study in the US (even if they don't intend to practice in the US) while the main reason American medical students study abroad is that they can't cut it in American universities.

            Don't kid yourself: if the only issue here were the cost to the end-user the problem would have been solved by now.

            "That's the trouble with basing policy on ideaology, one loses flexibility."

            This is the United States. We have at least 50 unique approaches to the health care issue (ie. deciding the government's role). If anything, what you're asking for is limited to one ideology by asking the federal government to get involved.

            "You see, compared with other sectors, demand for healthcare services are relative static in reaction to price - people do not get less sick just because prices go up."

            1.) Getting sick != seeing a doctor.

            2.) Even if it did, foreigners will stop coming to the US for medical attention if the price that comes with the reputation seems too high.

            Supply and demand is still at work, it's just more limited.

            "Consequently in a market based healthcare system like the US, relative speaking healthcare providers can charge what they want & mostly get away with it."

            This is what the insurance companies are arguing and they have price tags to prove their point. On the other side of the argument are the providers who claim that they can't make ends meet with what little money the insurance companies are willing to pay and they have over-worked, under-paid hospital staff to prove their point. Who's (more) right it's too early to tell.

            " A couple of Years ago some doctors decided to opt out of the system & charge what they want, well the govt just said we won't pay them, & if patients wanted to see them they'd have to pay them themselves."

            1.) Why pay for an independent doctor when you've literally already paid for a state-funded doctor reguardless? This is not a fair test unless the patients who saw the independent doctors got a tax deduction.

            2.) You assume that the patients who didn't see the independent Canadian doctors went to see the state-funded Canadian doctors instead. It's quite common for those Canadians that can do it to get their health care in the US.

            "Consequently in the rest of 'the West' healthcare costs are only about 8% of GDP, or something, while in the US its nearly about 15%"

            You know, we also pay a larger percentage of our GDP (and per capita) on space exploration as well. Yes, we're spending more than anybody else. Yes, what we pay for may be over-priced. Yes, others can do some of the more basic things for less money. But I don't see anybody else operating a shuttle fleet.

            "One standard for comparing health systems is life expectancies. M'nn "it appears all those countries with 'socialist health systems' have better life expectancy rates than the US" [mrdowling.com]. Ecen Cuba's almost matches the US's."

            The availabilty and quality of health care aren't the top two factors in longevity. I'm not even sure they're on the top ten. The trick to longevity isn't so much getting treatment when ill as much as not getting ill to begin with. The two big hits against our longevity compared to the rest of the industrialized world are:

            Culture - The average American worker works more hours per year than anybody else in the industrialied world. Even Japan. More work means more stress means weakened immune system.

            Climate - While this is hard to quantify and it does not have as much an affect on our longevity as it did a few thousand (or even hundred) years ago, it still has an undeniable effect. Large portions of the US tend to have harsher geography and weather than most of Europe (as well as more people living in those extremes). Tropical cyclones on the east coast, tornadoes and floods in the mid-west, desert lying between that and the blizzards in the Rockies, which brings us to the earthquakes on the west coast (and that's before we talk about volcanic activity in Alaska and Hawaii). There's may also be the issue of pollution.

            And while I'm on the subject: the US has a far larger sample population than the other industrialized countries (or even two or three of them combined), so the mathematical basis for that comparison is on shakey ground.

            "which means US highways are bound to be more efficient if they were all privacised & there were tollbooths on every entry ramp."

            Privatized? Not technically. Centrallized? Hell no!

            Anybody that's ever felt a thunk while driving over a state or county line on a federal highway knows that the management of federal highways is far from centrallized. A "federal" highway only means that the federal government is spending money on it, not that all the money being spent on it is from the federal government.

            There is competition between them as well. The state (county, city, whatever) that has the better highways gets more traffic through it (both civil and commercial), which means more gasoline tax, more tolls, more traffic tickets, more trucks going through weigh stations, more sales tax on restaraunts, hotels, billboards, etc...

            "Afterall increasing choice always makes things better - look at the 60 TV channels, that's much better than just having BBC 1, 2 & 3 & a couple of token private channels like they have in the UK."

            Ignoring the quality commercial stuff like A&E and Discovery Channel (both of who the BBC often teams up with in productions) and the private non-profit stuff on C-SPAN, I've still got two PBS stations. And while they are partially funded by the government, they also rely on corporate and private donations and so in a sense compete with each other. They're close enough to the BBC in concept to be carrying some of the same programming. While I only get two to their three, I also get quite a few channels in general on broadcast TV alone.

            Both our health care dillema and the country in general aren't as cut-and-dry as most people (Americans included) seem to think. At least we don't have compulsory voting forcing control of the government into the hands of the ignorant (and apathetic)...
        • So, you want to give poor people crappy healthcare?

          Nope, that's not the way it works (and I don't think that's what the post you're answering to said either). Actually, poor people are the ones you see most often in French hospitals, I hear (it's free, so they run to the hospital whenever there's anything wrong). I'll trust my source about it, my SO works in an hospital in France, so I get to hear a lot about how it works.

          Many things suck in France, but the healthcare system isn't one of them. I mean, check it out or ask around (I'm sure we have a few French people on /.), pal, instead of displaying that kind of insecure reaction. :)
    • Re:This is funny (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 )
      I reemember while visting my aunt in Canada that my sister broke her arm while she was there - well long story short the doctor put her arm in a cast (she is just fine today). The entire trip cost 50$ - mind you we were american's - not canadians. I don't live there mind you - but I was impressed at the time. In the US my sister probably could have got the surgery quicker (and actually we didn't have to wait long) but it would have cost thousands of dollars. A good case in point was a former co-worker of mine who had a bicycle accident in front of the office - broke his leg. With no insurance he went to the hospital quite rapidly, but is faced with over 25,000 us dollars of hospital bills - and I'm not bs'ing you in the slightest.

      I think its stupid - now that I lost my job a while back (a month now) I don't have insurance - a trip to get some medicine for a nasty sore throat cost me 75$ for the visit, which after the doctor came around 2~3 hours later lasted maybe 5 minutes and 25$ for the medicine - this is deadly for someone who has no addition income past unemployment (135$ per week)
    • Wow! Nice to hear it from somebody who actually lives in one of the "socialist paradise" countries.

      Very few people complained about healthcare in the US until Hillary Clinton riled people up, and the Leftist media picked up the ball and ran with it.

      That's how it is with socialism--it always regresses people to the mean. So, if your country is a total wreck and people are dying from the common cold, socialism will do a great job of lifting them up to something better. The problem is that when it comes time to move on, it tends to leave you stuck at that level.

      Obviously Canada, Sweden, Great Brittain, etc... are advanced enough that they need to inject a little market based reform into their systems. The problem is mostly psychological.

      A private system tends to produce the occasional "train wreck". These wrecks make great TV--excellent fodder for the Leftist media to jump on and say "look! it's awful". However, when you step back and look at the big picture, you see that from a statistical standpoint it isn't bad. Socialism, OTOH, kills quietly. People on a "waiting list" don't go from house to house collecting money and drawing a lot of attention to themselves.

      I have seen this happens in America when somebody is truly desparate. On several occasions I have stopped in at a mom-n-pop grocery, or even a chain store, and seen a jar out for somebody who needed an operation. Not all the time, mind you, but it does happen. You can call it "private socialism" if you like. The people here have an innate sense of when charity is called for, and when it isn't. It might be a little scary from time-to-time, but it works much better than some politicians would have you believe.

      • Very few people complained about healthcare in the US until Hillary Clinton riled people up...

        According to The National Coalition on Health Care [nchc.org], 79% of Americans agree with the statement "there is something seriously wrong with our health care system," 87% agree that "the quality of medical care for the average person needs to be improved," and only 15% have "complete confidence" in hospital care. Less than half of people (44%) say they have "confidence in the health care system to take care of me." 69% believe the federal government can play an important role in making health care better".

        Four in ten Americans report having had a "bad" experience with treatment or care, don't have confidence in the system to take good care of them, or believe hospitals have cut corners to save money, thus endangering patients.

        According [www.cma.ca] to The Commonwealth Fund [cmwf.org], 54% of American doctors are concerned that patients will not be able to afford the health care they need.

        • Your other links died in my browser, so I'll address the first one, which is weak on 2 points: 1. It's from an advocacy group. 2. It's a 1997 survey, well into the era of media hype surrounding health issues, which was the subject of my post. What fundamental changes have taken place in our heath care system since this poll (see below) was taken? Was the health care system in 1978 more or less socialized?

          Dang it. /. won't let me post the raw data because it thinks it's lame. Go to http://www.irss.unc.edu/cgi-bin/POLL/search.all.cg i?w1=Harris%20study%20no.%20S2754 and download the study. Keyword for heath care and you will find a 1978 study that asked:

          How do you think health care in the U.S.A. compares with health care in other major industrial countries like England, Germany, Sweden, or France? Do you think it is better, worse, or about the same? Responses: Better in the U.S.A./Worse in the U.S.A./About the same/Not sure

          44.40% Better in the U S A
          21.00% Worse in the U S A
          18.40% About the same
          16.20% Not sure

          • 1. It's from an advocacy group

            According to their Web site, they're nonpartisan: The Coalition brings together large and small businesses, labor unions, consumer groups, religious groups and primary care providers. Distinguished leaders from academia, business and government have also pledged their support of the Coalition's efforts. Its Honorary Co-Chairs are former Presidents George Bush, Gerald R. Ford, and Jimmy Carter and the Co-Chairmen are former Governor Robert D. Ray (R-IA) and former Congressman Paul G. Rogers (D-FL).

            Your original point was: "Very few people complained about healthcare in the US until Hillary Clinton riled people up" and now you produce evidence that in 1978 21% of the people thought health care was worse in the U.S. Even taking this poll at face value, 21% is not "very few". Does not your own evidence refute your point?

            • According to their Web site, they're nonpartisan

              According to Ken Lay, Enron was doing just fine.

              Does not your own evidence refute your point?

              21% is very few compared to the 69% figure the other poster cited. In 1972, 38% voted for McGovern! There is always going to be a core of disatisfaction, and that 21% probably represents that core. But I have to confess, I haven't convincingly proved my thesis: That the increasing disatisfaction with US health care in the 1990's is due to the Clinton's use of the bully pulpit and additional media attention.

              In order to prove that, I need two things: 1. A normalized measure of satisfaction from 1980 to the present. In other words, the same poll questions, and unbiased questions from an unbiased source (tough to find). The phrasing of poll questions is a black art too. You can manipulate surveys quite handily based on the way you ask the questions. 2. An unbiased measure of success on the part of our health care industry, and a measure of it from 1980 to the present. What represents success? Mortality broken down by age group perhaps? But then you can be sick for a long time without dying, so that's not so great either. Life expectancy may not be good either--how is it computed? They can't actually predict when you are going to die.

              Another interesting survey might be TV-watchers vs. non TV-watchers. I wager the TV watchers have much more negative opinions about health care, even if you adjust for factors such as IQ and age.

              It's a non-trivial exercise I don't have time to perform before this Slashdot article becomes irrelevant, but it would be an interesting study and if I can find the time for it I'll post it on TrulyFree.Net somewhere.

    • Re:This is funny (Score:3, Informative)

      by dgroskind ( 198819 )

      You should take a look at the Canadian system.

      • Canada [unicef.org] has an infant mortality rate of 6 per thousand live births compared to 7 for the United States [unicef.org].
      • Canada has an under five years infant mortality rate of 6 per thousand live births compared to 8 for the U.S.
      • Canada has 2 deaths per thousand annually for children under 5 years. The U.S. has 31.

  • "The bad news is that the movie is so hypocritical, heavy-handed and gummed up with silly, sentimental and cliche-stuffed sub-plots that it undermines its own good intentions."

    Wasn't that obvious from the TV commercial??

    • "The bad news is that the movie is so hypocritical, heavy-handed and gummed up with silly, sentimental and cliche-stuffed sub-plots that it undermines its own good intentions."

      Hey, is this a review of JohnQ or JohnKatz?

  • We live in a world (and country) where people can open your chest and give you a new heart if the original one isn't working. This isn't worth $250K? And if you can't afford it, it should be done for "free" (it's not ACTUALLY free, of course.)

    Free hearts for everyone!

    I'm tired of the friggin' preaching. I don't care how good the actors are.
    • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Sunday February 17, 2002 @10:45AM (#3021729) Homepage
      Yes, you should. And every gun-toting, Ayn Rand-reading, welfare-bashing one of you would say the same thing if you needed one and couldn't afford the surgery. And anyone who says otherwise is lying.
      • every gun-toting, Ayn Rand-reading, welfare-bashing

        I was going to fire back, but then I realized you hit me with every shot!

        Interestingly enough, I just went downstairs and my wife had read a review of the same movie on another site, and we discussed our thoughts on it. For me it came down to this: It's a tragic situation...a rip your shirt and raise-your-fist-to-the-heavens tragedy; I don't blame the father for taking desperate measures; I wish everyone COULD get free hearts if they needed them. My major complaint is that they make the doctor and the hospital out to be the bad guys for not doing this immensely complicated and expensive procedure for free.

        If it was my son or daughter or wife: you're half right. I WOULD want to get it done by any means possible. But I wouldn't expect it to be done for free, and I wouldn't blame the hospital and doctors for expecting to get paid, and I wouldn't expect an insurance company or any other group of people to give me a quarter million dollars when they didn't have an obligation to do so.
        • Several years back the wife's friend fell into a coma for no reason at all. The doctors were at a loss to explain why.... About a year later, (when the maximum insurance was about to pass), the hospital said that the our friend had died, but would not say how. The paperwork was somehow "missing"... We all demanded an autopsy, but then the hospital managed to lose his BODY!!! We still don't know what happened, but think its "funny" how all this happened when his lifetime maximum was about to pass. Needless to say, they are battling the hospital in court. The very least, we at least want the body so we can give him a proper burial, but we can't even have that.

          Now getting back to the movie...
          *** Possible Spoiler ***

          When the police/hospital said, "Why don't we just tell him that his son is on the list, how will he ever know"... And then the women said that the hospital will take care of everything.... Coulnd't that in a way be interpreted as a binding oral contract? Just curious...
    • by dillon_rinker ( 17944 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @01:16PM (#3022216) Homepage
      Free hearts for everyone!

      Boo! Boo!

      Free hearts for some, tiny American flags for others!

      Yay! Hooray!

      (Don't blame me; I voted for Kodos.)
  • The good news is that a major film studio is taking up a complex issue like health
    care, one of the worst messes in American life.


    How is American healthcare "one of the worst messes in American life?"

    Unless you are talking about the flood of people from OTHER countries coming here to recieve the benefits of our healthcare system...

    If ours was so bad, the flood would be going the other direction.

    Now, if you really mean the state of our WELFARE system, i.e., since each person that is not a billionaire is not assigned a socially funded neuroligist, cardiologist, aroma therapist, etc. from birth-to-death, then please, say so.
    • How is American healthcare "one of the worst messes in American life?"

      Because a shockingly high number of working people can't get health insurance. And because insurance companies are making decisions about health care, and are failing to provide good care.

    • In the UN acceptance, there is 188 other countries than the US. The fact that philippinos, coreans or africans get better care in the US than were they were born does not qualify the US for being content with the relative quality of the service they offer to their own population.


      The world health organization has ranked the US system, beyond the 20th rank, behind every other countries among the most industrialized, but for the UK. The problem is that a bigger proportion of ressources is diverted to relatively over-paid doctors, over-paid drugs and the profit of private health insurance companies.


      For one highly publicized-TV-reported case of a foreigner who comes in the US undergo an experimental highly advanced treatment from a top US surgeon, after having raised the necessary $500K through charity, you have 10000 letters sent from HMOs telling people they won't cover the cancer treatment or the transplant they need. You have hundreds of thousands of women who have to work till the age of 70 to support the badly-covered illness of their husband.

    • by CrackElf ( 318113 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @12:00PM (#3021978) Homepage
      Unless you are talking about the flood of people from OTHER countries coming here to receive the benefits of our healthcare system...

      .rant
      Umm ... have you actually ever been to another 1st (or even many 2nd world) country where the health care is even as bad as ours? In college I did a paper comparing our country's health care system with other 1st world countries' health care systems. Ours is the worst. Not second worst, not third worst. We, as usual will not allow ourselves to be anything but number 1. And we have the number 1 worst health care system of all first world countries. Like UK, like japan, like the whole frikkin EU. In subsequent years, I have had the opportunity to travel to some of these countries. And, in talking to my coworkers and people in other countries, I can tell you, we are getting jipped, hoodwinked, coned, taken for a ride, mislead, lied to, and anyone who tells you different is either profiting from the system, is selling you something, or has been brainwashed by someone doing one of the former two.
      .endrant
      • Where are you finding a Constitutional power of the federal government to socialize medical care?

        Please point out the Artical/Section/Clause of the Constution that hands this power to the federal government.
        • Where are you finding a Constitutional power of the federal government to socialize medical care?

          Please point out the Artical/Section/Clause of the Constitution that hands this power to the federal government.


          Eh? I was looking at the quality, not the legality / constitutionality, or morality of various systems. But if you want to turn this into a capies vs commies thing, here goes:

          As far as the legality/ constitutionality that goes, you are right, helping people without a profit motive is unconstitutional the way that it is written. And the insurance companies have been exploiting this for a long time.

          Personally I believe that it is societies duty to take care of its citizens. Furthermore I believe that it is the ethical and moral thing to do.

          I have found that those who have a view counter to mine change their tune rather quickly when the tables turn, and through no fault of their own, they find themselves in a disadvantaged position, and the system stops working for them.
      • I'm curious about what standards you used in evaluating health care in one country against those in another. Was it money spent per patient? Was it based on some fairness measure? What standards are picked makes a big difference. What did you consider most important in creating you rankings? The standards picked make a big difference.

        • I do not recall all of the particulars, but I do recall that in the areas of maternal / child and elderly care both quality and availability were incredibly substandard (including post-natal care). We also failed (at that point) in the cost:quality ratio, and the quantity of things covered. In non-emergency care, the cost:quality ratio is pretty low (I do not rem if it was the worst or not), the availability was low (though I grant that that is part of the design of a non - social medical system), and the number of items covered by the 'insurance'. With the numbers that I saw (including the 'pro-us' camp's) it would have been pretty hard to make the US look good without choosing a specific group with higher than average quality (like those that are in the upper middle to upper class, or on a hospital that is particularly exceptional, or ignoring certain figures) and focusing entirely on that. Of course, any statistics are subject to manipulation.

          I encourage you to research this independently (looking at sources from both sides of the fence) and make your own conclusion. That is what I did.
      • This seems intuitively true to me.

        I live in Australia, and here, health care is simply not a problem. First, everyone gets Medicare, which is government-sponsored healthcare. If I go to my local doctor, they just swipe my Medicare card [hic.gov.au], and it's all free.

        For bigger things and hospital stay, most people have private insurance, but it costs peanuts. I pay $73 (USD 40) per month for what is pretty much full cover. For some procedures, I have to make a co-payment, but it is usually tiny. For example, a root canal normally costs several thousand dollars if you don't have private insurance, but I had to make a co-payment of only $100.

      • The situation is too complex to simply brand the US as having the "worst" health care of any first world country. My father, a medical doctor, spent several months last year on sabbatical in England. He learned alot about thier health coverage during his research there. He was disturbed at the low level of investment in health care. Those who can afford it get supplimental health coverage to receive benefits equivalent to a typical coverage enjoyed by an American.

        The American health system has alot of problems. There is alot of gouging going on. Millions of working Americans have no health coverage. We're overly infatuated with high technology, often throwing away cheaper, equally effective techniques for newer, more expensive techniques. The system needs to be fixed. But the US health system does have a lot of good things. Those people lucky enough to have mainstream health coverage usually have superior coverage than their English counterpart.

        • Well, I am by no means an expert, but, no offence, but the word of a 'doctor' who is inherently vested in the system hardly seems to present an 'objective' viewpoint.

          I agree with you on one point, it is a complex issue. I read ~17 sources when writing the paper (I do not remember the ratio of pro, con, and {ostensibly} objective statistical material). I discovered that there are many areas in which the US failed. As an example I will give you pre and post natal care. Off of the top of my head, in the US there is less time off (for both parents), less visits (pre-natal), less assistance (pre-natal), and often no post natal care for child and parent.

          And, I do not know what you mean by 'mainstream' care, many packages offered to the blue collar workers are far, far worse than ones offered white collar workers, and even more so with high-tech white collar workers.

          I encourage you to not take my word for it, but to research this subject on your own.
  • by johnathan ( 44958 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @10:39AM (#3021705) Homepage
    I thought ol' Grimey was a nuclear engineer. Or did he get a hostage negotiation degree by correspondence, too?
  • and why does this matter?

    hell while you are at it why not review the new Britney Spears [cnn.com] movie....
  • by squarooticus ( 5092 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @10:40AM (#3021709) Homepage
    I like my health care plan. The vast majority of Americans like their health plans, also. However, this is primarily because most people don't encounter these kinds of life-threatening, costly, long-term illnesses.

    The best change the U.S. Government could make to improve health care in this country is to extend the health plan tax deduction to individuals. Right now, an individual contracting for his own health care effectively pays 1/3-1/2 MORE for the same plan because they can't deduct that income from their taxes.

    Once people can contract for their own insurance plans, you'd see less of this "procedure-denied" bullshit because people wouldn't be locked into whatever plan their employers decide is best (read: cheapest).

    (Of course, a better solution would be to repeal the income tax entirely, but our government is so addicted to money, this seems unlikely. But that's a whole different story...)
    • Bad Mess? Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by El Camino SS ( 264212 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @11:26AM (#3021853)

      GOOD POINT. Tax relief would be a benefit. Certainly, there are new federal benefits for adopting foreign children for couples that can't have kids... SO IF WE WRITE OUR CONGRESSMEN AND SCREAM ABOUT IT, we could get tax breaks and credits for individuals and dying organ donors.

      It would help, but it would not solve the problem, you know. I am a newsman in Nashville, TN, and we do all sorts of "little Timmy needs a new liver" stories all the time... they're always tragic, and they make me depressed for days. There are two things that most people don't know about organ transplants...

      1. They always bankrupt the family. Always. You'd have to be Bill Gates to have the family bounce back from that. How do they bankrupt them. Mom usually has to quit her job to ferry the child to hospitals in three states, and it costs incredible money in hotels, gas, and lost income. They have about a 1.5 year window before they decide between healthcare and food... or before the car gets repo'd.

      2. A lot of doctors keep bad bookkeeping on purpose because they know they are running the family into practically indentured servitude for decades, or straight up bankruptcy. Course, the hospital goes the opposite. They love the docs. Hate the phone calls that harass them daily.

      So what is the solution? There is none. No matter how you slice it, it is insanely expensive for a hospital to sit their best, most highly trained doctors over a poor family for weeks at a time. We could all pay for it, but that would be like paying for a second federal government... literally. Your taxes would probably double. I am of course, being conservative.. and here's the proof.

      There is no way out of this argument. Most people think it is cheaper for health care than it really is. If you think they're overchargin', then notice all the bankrupt hospitals.

      In Tenessee, the first (and last) US state to have socialized health care, there are 1/4 of Tennessee's indigent residents getting practically unlimited health care... I can't because I MAKE MONEY. Drug dealers in the projects that don't work on purpose get better health care than me. And I pay for mine. Through the nose.
      Like I said, one quarter of my state's population on 'Tenncare.' What does it cost for one quarter of a rural state in one year? Five billion. NO SHIT. Tennessee's state budget is 20 billion. I should know. I spend weeks at a time covering budgets in the state capitol. They slashed education to pay for health to the point that almost everyone goes to a private school, or risk illiteracy with their children. Now everyone's kids can't go on field trips, but it doesn't matter because they can't read anything if they got there.

      The healthcare that everyone around me has, the 'Utopian Healthcare' that everyone in TN supports the poor with translates to 2.5 cents on every sales tax dollar I spend. How do I know? It is exactly one quarter of the state budget. Tennessee has no income tax, and sales tax is almost 10 cents. If it was the whole population? Well, it would be 10 cents instead of 2.5. Making my state sales tax at current rate close to 17.5 cents per dollar I spend.

      There is your socialized medicine. There is a real, working example of what it would really cost for free organs. Eat that tax rate people. Most poor are lucky they have what they do. We couldn't possible afford it. It would make all middle income families indigent. They're lucky that we all pay into it. But if it gets any worse, we won't be able to pay into socialized medicine... we'll be signing up for it.

      • Re:Bad Mess? Yes. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jeff.paulsen ( 6195 )
        A lot of doctors keep bad bookkeeping on purpose because they know they are running the family into practically indentured servitude for decades, or straight up bankruptcy

        This even goes on for less expensive procedures. I went to the doctor for help quitting smoking a few months ago, and she prescribed Wellbutrin SR 150mg, 2x daily. As I was leaving, I gave the receptionist $100 as partial payment on the cost of the visit. My doctor saw this, and chased me down in the parking lot to say "I didn't realize you didn't have insurance. Wellbutrin costs $4 a day. Here, have $80 worth of samples." I also haven't received a bill for any of my visits there; that's about another $100. I strongly suspect that people with no insurance and no money at all still get great treatment from my doctor, and the paperwork just gets "lost", and the pharmaceutical companies keep giving her "samples". In effect, prescription drugs are unofficially subsidized by their manufacturers, and low-income health care is unofficially subsidized by everyone else.

        As for my doctor getting paid, my employer will soon hook me up with health insurance, and she will continue to be my doctor, so she can soak the insurance company, which will doubtless pay full price for all my future needs.

        • You are right, some doctors have samples to give to patients who can't afford the medicine. But:

          1. not all drug companies give samples
          2. not all samples are in sufficient supply
          3. not all doctors figure out that their patients want/need samples

          The unofficial subsidization you speak of happens, and it's good that it does , but it's no substitute for actual coverage.

          As for low-income health care being subsidized by everyone else, you're right that it's unofficially subsidized now, but it ought to be *officially* subsidized. This is the idea of the sfety net. It is the compromise that capitalism must make with humanity- capitalism works because people are afraid to be at the bottom of the ladder so they do what it takes to move up- but some (most?) always have to be at the bottom for it to work, so we must make the bottom as humane as possible.

          It would be nice if we could all be rich. But we can't. Given that, should we imply that the poor are lazy leeches who are undeserving of our charity, or acknowledge that they are in a structurally imposed condition that those who are better off have a moral obligation to improve? That's a rhetorical question, in case it's not clear.

          • I am the parent of this thread...

            That is an interesting way to look at it. IF you have a risk taking based society, to be truly civilized you need to have a safety net.

            I'm going to go chew on that for a while.

            That's why I like /... even though I aiiiin't a moron, sometimes the little ideas slip through. Thanks for the idea.
    • I like my health care plan. The vast majority of Americans like their health plans, also.

      I like my mansion and yacht. The vast majority of Americans like their mansions and yachts, also. What? Some folks don't even have mansions and yachts? Prepostrous. Everyone I know at the country club has several.

  • Last night they played a radio interview with Denzel on this movie and, later this year, his upcoming directorial debut.

    As for John Q. it sounded sappy and overdone in the simple go-for-the-emotional-gut format Hollywood is famous for. I was a bit concerned this might lead some people to consider threat of violence an acceptable option, not that postal employees and school children haven't already done so. Showing the legal and emotional battle some friends went through would be more engrossing, but Hollywood doesn't seem to favor such stories unless written by Grisham or other famous authors whose fan base they can count on.

    As for the directorial debut coming up, it was hard to tell if he was serious, his comments about being surrounded buy great people meant he didn't have to do much of anything, he could even screw up and they'd cover for him. I hope he was joking, we don't really need another goose egg in the theaters.

  • Messes? (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by rho ( 6063 )
    The good news is that a major film studio is taking up a complex issue like health care, one of the worst messes in American life.

    I humbly recommend that you go to Cuba when you want to be fixed up after breaking a leg while engaging in one of the many dangerous pastimes American's indulge in--which we're able to indulge in, rather than rooting in the dirt for basic sustenance, because life is so fucking good here in the US of A.

    (-1, Goddamn Troll Katz)

    • I humbly suggest you look at the working poor in your country. Can they afford good health insurance? No. They're rooting around in their minimum wage jobs for basic sustenance. Wealthy Americans are the most fucking ignorant people on the planet.

      Hypothetical situation: You work for a big company, and have a pretty good company health insurance plan. Big company goes under and you lose your job. You land a new job quickly, but don't actually start that job for a few weeks, and you don't get medical benefits for several months afterwards. You're in a car accident a few days before the new job, and have to go through major surgery. Not only can you not work for several months, you have to pay for it yourself.

      Or maybe you're a student working part time at a retail store, and part-timers don't get health benefits. You're stocking a high shelf when the ladder collapses. You break a leg, maybe an arm, maybe injure your back a bit. Instead of going into your tuition, your college savings go into your medical bills and you never finish your studies.

      Does your good ol' for-profit-at-all-costs-capitalism-is-always-the-a nswer system sound so great now?

      In my country, Canada, life is a right. So fuck you. Relying on a company plan is just indentured servitude, and very few people can rely on their own money.
      • Absence of state-provided healthcare is not denial of any right to life.

        Enjoy waiting two years to get cancer treatment. Try not to die!!! I will take advantage of a cheap education and get a decent job and actually work for my benefits, you socialist fuck.

      • Re:Messes? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rho ( 6063 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @09:16PM (#3024225) Homepage Journal
        I humbly suggest you look at the working poor in your country. Can they afford good health insurance? No. They're rooting around in their minimum wage jobs for basic sustenance.

        Spare me. The poor are poor because they do poor-people things. Like rent-to-own furniture and buying $1200 rims.

        Broke people are different than poor people. Broke is having no money, poor is 100% attitude.

        Hypothetical situation: You work for a big company, and have a pretty good company health insurance plan...[yadda yadda yadda]...Or maybe you're a student working part time

        So? If it's so goddamned important, buy your own insurance policy I was able to afford my own health insurance on less than $15,000 income last year as I was getting a business off the ground and got married besides. Know how I did it? I ate cheap, quit smoking, didn't buy stuff, lived frugally, and didn't participate in dangerous activities (like scuba diving, which I love with a passion, but I can't afford the extra premium). I have zero sympathy.

        In my country, Canada, life is a right.

        Interesting. What's the abortion rate in Canada?

        Life is a right--good health is a responsibility, not a right. You might as well say "not having cancer is a right". Life sucks, get a helmet.

        So fuck you. Relying on a company plan is just indentured servitude, and very few people can rely on their own money.

        See above, you socialist fruitcake. It can be done, if you so desire. It's a choice: depend on yourself or depend on others. I'm independant, you're a leech. Enjoy your lunch.

  • ... but just looking at the trailer I can guess that the dad get's shot by the police and the doctors use his heart to save the child. This is not something for writers to wrestle with, it's the obvious outcome for the film and perhaps the premise that the film was based on from it's conception. I could of course be wrong, but I don't intend to pay to sit through a film that treats an armed hostage taker with anything other than contempt.
  • by Sj0 ( 472011 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @11:00AM (#3021758) Journal
    I kept thinking "shit! It's a movie about an american who wishes he was canadian!"
    lol.
  • Plot Believability (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lkaos ( 187507 ) <anthony @ c o d e m o nkey.ws> on Sunday February 17, 2002 @11:00AM (#3021759) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so the kid needs a heart transplant. It's not as if there are tons of matched hearts laying around and one only needs 1/4 mill to get them.

    IIRC, hospitals must treat patients regardless of whether they have insurance or not in a life-or-death situation. If the kid was going to die, he would have to receive the heart transplant.

    Now, medications and stuff are a whole different story. And, again IIRC, I do not believe heart transplants have a very long life-extension rate. I am rather sure that folks don't live forever with them.

    One would think the sheer fact that it is a child would complicate the situation more since a child obviously could not get an adult's heart. So the hospital would need a child of a similar age's heart that was also compatible with the kid's blood type.

    It's hard to speak out on an issue using an unrealistic circumstance. Considering that we live in a free market, the fact that so many people who can't afford the level of care they receive are actually getting it.

    This is sort of like the senior prescription drug stuff. Elderly individuals that did not live their lives planning to live so long, can be kept artifically alive via medication. What happens in society if we figure out a way to add 20 more years to a persons live (but of the quality that most seniors suffer^H^H^H^H^Henjoy now). Is that a good thing and more importantly, whose going to pay for it?
    • That's a good point. I'm pretty sure there is a long waiting list for transplant hearts - just because most donors want to hang on to their hearts while they are still living!

      As for the money, why doesn't the main character just rob a bank? That's practically the same thing, as far as the situation goes. Hold up a hospital. Hold up a bank.

      And I'll have to agree with JonKatz here. Even if Health Care is a big mess, I don't believe that all doctors are evil bean-counters. Even the "bean-counters" themselves are doing their best to do their jobs (as I'd like to believe). Portraying them as evil doesn't really help us see or solve the problem. It's the system, not the people implimenting it.

    • Now, medications and stuff are a whole different story. And, again IIRC, I do not believe heart transplants have a very long life-extension rate. I am rather sure that folks don't live forever with them.

      One would think the sheer fact that it is a child would complicate the situation more since a child obviously could not get an adult's heart. So the hospital would need a child of a similar age's heart that was also compatible with the kid's blood type.


      There was recently a story on a local news channel (SF bay area) about a guy who plays goalie on a local college lacross team (IIRC, St Mary's). He had recieved a heart transplant was 5. They did mention that he was not expected to live as long as most people (the medications that he takes to prevent his body from rejecting the transplant have side effects), but he should make it for some time yet.

      So, this might be an isolated incident, but it does show that there is hope for such patients to live relatively normal lives.

      Also, IIRC, this guy's operation was not covered under his health plan either. However, his surgery was performed free of charge by doctors at Stanford University (against whom he was playing the weekend of the story :). It sounded like heart failure in children is pretty rare, so patients can get quality care from researchers. John Q might have had another avenue to pursue (probably would've been a dull movie tho).
  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @11:06AM (#3021780) Homepage
    I don't think this movie "bashes" the HMOs.

    First off the father in the movie had insurance (or so he thought). The insurance that he thought he had was supposed to cover this type of surgery. Come to find out that since his working hours at the factory had been cut from Full time to part time his insurance policy had changed as well (although he was not notified of this).

    He was also not notified that his company decided to change insurance carriers.

    So, it looks to me like his company is partly to blame for not informing about his insurance coverage.
  • by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @11:06AM (#3021782) Homepage
    Just recieved my DVD of Mamoru Oshii AVALON [movie-page.com] by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the shell, Patlabor) in the mail the other day, I have watched it twice in two days and will probably see it a few more times this week... it is that good.

    The plot centers around a group of people that play an illegal virtual reality game [slashdot.org] in Poland called Avalon (similer to Unreal Tournament and other 3d shooters). A player can either form parties or go solo, people make a living playing this game [slashdot.org]. It seems there is a "glitch" in the program that once a player enters the "forbidden plains" they cannot reset (or get out of the game) and are stuck there till the mission is complete.

    I cant get to much further into it without giving away plot devices but suffice it to say it is an intense movie.

    The movie itself can be described as "live action" anime, with some outstanding computer effects. The language is Japanese AND Polish with English & Chinese subtitles, but there is very little talking.

    This movie will leaving you scratching your head till your scalp bleeds!

    NOTE: It's a little tricky to find how to activate the subtitles, as all the menus are in Japanese (its the upper right hand menu, select the selected option and then select option 2 on the next screen).

    Go ahead mark this offtopic, but at least this movie was worth reviewing...
  • The problem with the American health care system is simple:

    The American Legal System

    The legal system has made it so that doctors can never afford to be wrong and even if they are right, they better have excessive evidence that they are right. I'm a little surprise I didn't see any mention of lawyers in Katz's review, but in real life, more doctors and HMOs are held hostage by lawyers than by guns.
  • Wait a sec... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wirefarm ( 18470 ) <jim@m[ ].net ['mdc' in gap]> on Sunday February 17, 2002 @11:19AM (#3021829) Homepage
    A poor guy's kid needs a heart transplant.
    The heart transplant costs a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS.
    The guy can't afford it.
    The guy takes a gun and steals the procedure.
    This makes him a hero?
    ...
    I don't get it.

    You know, in some countries, kids die because they can't afford food and clean water.
    Oh, wait - this is an *American* kid - that makes this sort of thing OK - I see now...

    Sort of makes me wish that they took the money that they used to make the movie and used it to buy food and heart transplants for people that need them rather than for mildly amusing a bunch of well-off people for 90 minutes.
    (Yes, I believe that if you have the means to see this movie somehow, you are comparatively well-off, in the grand scheme of things.)

    How about this - if you haven't seen the movie yet, *don't*.
    Send $15 to UNICEF (or whoever) instead.

    This movie strikes me as just another case of *talking* about doing good, rather than actually *doing* something good.

    JMHO...
    • I rather wipe my ass with a $100 bill than to send $1 to UNICEF.
    • Re:Wait a sec... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Phosphor3k ( 542747 )
      Boo hoo. Its called population control and survival of the fittest.
    • This makes him a hero?
      ...
      I don't get it.


      What I don't get is why you and Katz are reading way too much into a movie. Its a work of fiction. Hollywood isn't pushing some message, some screenwriters who need to write something to sell aren't even pushing a message, they're making a story. If you watched it and thought that the supposed hero wasn't a hero at all, that's great. Assuming that you can't go against cliched characters and supposed messages from hollywood are The Truth is just plain stupid.
  • First, for those who want a real review, try this page [colossus.net].

    I will give Jon credit where credit is due: His overall description of the movie, though poorly written, isn't too far off the mark. But as usual, there's some important information left out. For example, one of the reasons that the director became involved in the movie is because his own child was on a donated organ recipient list. An important tidbit when trying to understand why the movie may be the way it is. Background research never hurt anyone, Jon. If you're gonna use Slashdot's bandwidth to review a movie, at least try to make it somewhat insightful.

    Speaking of which, why is this review even included on Slashdot? What is the "geekiness" factor of this movie?

    John Q is contemporary Hollywood's idea of an issue movie: preachiness hiding behind a superstar.

    *sigh*

    Better read as "Jon Katz is Slashdot's idea of a columnist: preachiness hiding behind a Net celebrity."

  • So John Q snaps and takes the hospital hostage. Not because he is poor or because his son is sick, but because he believes that he should be entitled to free healthcare when it possible to save his son.

    How far have we fallen? If a 'national emergency' was declared and the government needed people to setup a computer system to save soldiers lives (yes it wouldn't happen, but just go with me here), would you do it? Some might volunteer, and that'd be noble, but nobody should be required to work for a fraction of what their services are worth.

    IANADoctor, but heart transplants seem hard to do, and those who get them don't often survive for long (see that guy in Texas who just died of an artificial one). Knowledge of this area is filled with holes, and I see no reason why a heart transplant wouldn't legitimately cost $250,000.

    Yes the kid is sick, and it's a cute kid, who we'd all want to help if we saw him on the street. But charity, while noble, should always be optional. Our health care system seems to have forgotten that long ago if John Q is the kind of guy they expect sympathy for.
  • Is it a surprise to anyone that this movie is coming out in an election year, and that people are making a fuss about health coverage again? That was the first thought I had when I saw the preview months ago.

    Also, in real life, a TV news station would broadcast the situation and there'd be money streaming in from all across the US to help the little boy. Americans have proven that they don't want things like this to happen. Oh well--it's just so hard to suspend disbelief when the movie is trying so hard to hand it back to you...
  • The irrational among us expect too much advancement in commercial medicine too soon. For example, demanding bargain-basement prices on perscription drugs through law will either kill the suppliers of the drug or prevent research into advancing drug science.... If such laws went into effect in earlier times, most of us wouldn't be here thanks to diseases such as small pox, the flu, and so on. Cancer would be completely untreatable....

    Maybe most people expect to much from the commercial medicine community. Maybe I expect to much rational thought from most people.
  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Sunday February 17, 2002 @12:42PM (#3022112)
    How?

    How does Jon Katz POSSIBLY consider himself to be a capable reviewer?

    And your own reviews are as welcome as mine.

    Sorry, but that's not saying much.

    He is catching guff about money from his wife (Denise Archibald), and the couple has a cute and loving kid Mike (Daniel Smith) who collapses during a baseball game.

    Hey. Names in parenthesis are supposed to be used for the actor's real name. Katz switches off, using them for both real manes and character names. Sheesh, talk about uneven.

    The Archibald's sell of nearly everything they own to try and raise the money to pay the hospital and the greedy, uncaring surgeon (James Woods) and as Mike slips closer to dying, John snaps and takes over the hospital emergency room.

    Now let us talk about run-on sentences and basic grammar. I think I recall learning the proper uses of the apostrophe in second grade. Plus, conjunctions (if that's too big a word, I'm referring to the 'ands') are supposed to connect words, thoughts, or phrases. They're not supposed to be substitutes for periods!

    is any authority figure in America ever competent in a Hollywood movie?

    You don't watch many movies. That point doesn't need to be driven any further.

    You'll have to see the movie to find out. It's entertaining, and it's almost sure to be a big hit. But even a superstar can't mask a silly story.

    Yes. "This is a great movie, but it sucks. Go see it! Then realize you weren't supposed to." Pick an opinion, for Christ's sake.

    Oh, and can we see how many more times we can work the word "saintly" into this review?
  • And your own reviews are as welcome as mine


    Jon Katz reviews? Welcome? I think this qualifies as proof that Jon Katz doesn't ever read any of the comments on his own stories :) ...Either that, or he's implying that he wants to see slashdotters tarred and feathered, too.


    David

  • Jon, have you EVER seen a movie you've liked? I mean, it seems that no matter the movie, you haven't been entertained by it. I think you've reached the point where you need to stop doing the movie review thing and actually start writing about things you like.

    Then again, it seems flames and attacks by /.'ers drive you to continue to post aggravating reviews of crap movies that most of us weren't going to see anyway.

    Nonetheless, I wish you luck on your future, non-movie-reviewing endeavors.

  • So this guy effectively punishes the hospital, its employees, and its patients, because his son can't receive a heart transplant.

    So who's to blame?

    The insurance company? Maybe, if the policy was actually supposed to cover such operations. Take 'em to court.

    The government? Feh. If the government had to pay for heart transplants for everyone, we'd be living in a socialist state, and everyone would be lucky to have a roof over their heads, much less healthcare.

    Can't be the hospital; if they gave out free heart transplants, they'd be out of business and have to close.

    As a drama about a desparate man, maybe it has value. As a political statement, it's thoroughly evil.
    • If the government had to pay for heart transplants for everyone, we'd be living in a socialist state, and everyone would be lucky to have a roof over their heads, much less healthcare.

      In the socialist country to the north of you, the government *does* pay for heart transplants for everyone who gets them. There are shortages of available organs here (as in the US, I think), so not everyone who needs a new heart gets one, but this particular procedure isn't one that is handled better in a pay-as-you-go system.
      • Well, up in Canada they do have a few ways to cut costs; for instance, it often takes months or longer before a patient can receive the diagnostic tests needed to determine the extent of a problem. Many patients die before it's determined they need a transplant. Despite these measures, the government is slowly going bankrupt over the bills for the procedures that ARE performed. If it continues, then I still stand by my words; Canada will turn into a socialist state, and most everyone there will live in squalor.
  • You know, I find this somewhat funny - that they would portray THIS as what's wrong with the American health system. This isn't what's wrong at all - mainly because, well, this would never happen. Doctors aren't heartless, and in life-or-death situations, amazing things happen.

    What's wrong with the American health system is what's never heard about - ordinary people. People who don't have health insurance who have real chronic health problems that limit the life they can live. I'm not saying that this is even an American problem - in many ways it's a world problem, but many other countries have worked around it.

    Emergency medicine isn't the real issue - it's chronic medicine. That is, prescriptions - THAT'S what eat the real cost. In emergency medicine, amazing things happen and a lot of what goes on there isn't limited by HMOs. Yah. You'll find individual examples, yes, but it's not the problem that chronic medicine is.

    Seniors really have it worst, but there are other people who get screwed over as well, because the cost of the prescription is utterly insane. Students, for example - most students are uninsured for a year or two in college simply because most health care plans don't cover students past 21 (I was lucky - mine covered me through 24, and I have a pathetically bad one through the University now).

    Now here comes the question - people will say "oh, so sorry, americans have it so bad, paying for drugs while we scrounge for food" - like hell. The issue is that there's no damned reason these drugs have to cost as much as they do. It's not like they cost that much to make. Keep in mind that the majority of research done by drug making companies is to preserve their patent on drugs! This is insane! I mean, REALLY REALLY insane! The problem dogging the US health care system is the same problem which hurts health care world wide, and solving it would solve a lot of problems world wide, not just in the US. Many people in the US can't afford prescriptions. They sure as hell can't afford them OUTSIDE the US. Yes, if they lowered their prices we could afford them easily, but then tons of aid agencies would be able to help other countries get them as well. THIS fight, if it's fought right, wins out for everyone.

    So, generic drugs don't get out to the WORLD (not the US, the WORLD) because drug companies are wasting the talents of good researchers to muck around with old drugs to make them repatentable.

    Honestly, there's a simple, easy way to fix a lot of the health care problems in the US. Kill the damned ability of drug manufacturers to not develop anything new and still make money. Make them revert to what they are SUPPOSED to be doing if they're doing research: DOING RESEARCH. Suddenly, all the costs of drugs drops ridiculously, and the HMOs have money to burn on emergency medicine.

    Hey. It's another thing which geeks like - yelling at the patent system. Someone needs to kill that dinosaur ridiculously fast. The idea that you can sit on your ass and make money of off one good idea the rest of your life is a total crock. If you're an inventor, invent. If you're a scientist, do research. If you're an engineer, engineer. God. Think of all the money these corporations would save if they just abandoned all of their infrastructure in protecting patents and actually concentrated on doing research.

Lend money to a bad debtor and he will hate you.

Working...